A dominant allele of Arabidopsis pectin-binding wall-associated kinase induces a stress response suppressed by MPK6 but not MPK3 mutations

Mol Plant. 2012 Jul;5(4):841-51. doi: 10.1093/mp/ssr096. Epub 2011 Dec 7.


The plant cell wall is composed of a matrix of cellulose fibers, flexible pectin polymers, and an array of assorted carbohydrates and proteins. The receptor-like Wall-Associated Kinases (WAKs) of Arabidopsis bind pectin in the wall, and are necessary both for cell expansion during development and for a response to pathogens and wounding. Mitogen Activated Protein Kinases (MPKs) form a major signaling link between cell surface receptors and both transcriptional and enzyme regulation in eukaryotes, and Arabidopsis MPK6 and MPK3 indeed have important roles in development and the response to stress and pathogens. A dominant allele of WAK2 requires kinase activity and activates a stress response that includes an increased ROS accumulation and the up-regulation of numerous genes involved in pathogen resistance, wounding, and cell wall biogenesis. This dominant allele requires a functional pectin binding and kinase domain, indicating that it is engaged in a WAK signaling pathway. A null mutant of the major plasma membrane ROS-producing enzyme complex, rbohd/f does not suppress the WAK2cTAP-induced phenotype. A mpk6, but not a mpk3, null allele is able to suppress the effects of this dominant WAK2 mutation, thus distinguishing MPK3 and MPK6, whose activity previously was thought to be redundant. Pectin activation of gene expression is abated in a wak2-null, but is tempered by the WAK-dominant allele that induces elevated basal stress-related transcript levels. The results suggest a mechanism in which changes to the cell wall can lead to a large change in cellular responses and help to explain how pathogens and wounding can have general effects on growth.

Publication types

  • Research Support, N.I.H., Extramural
  • Research Support, Non-U.S. Gov't
  • Research Support, U.S. Gov't, Non-P.H.S.

MeSH terms

  • Alleles*
  • Arabidopsis / enzymology
  • Arabidopsis / genetics*
  • Arabidopsis / metabolism
  • Arabidopsis / physiology*
  • Arabidopsis Proteins / genetics*
  • Gene Deletion
  • Glucosides / metabolism
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / deficiency
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases / genetics
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / deficiency
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Mutation*
  • Protein Kinases / genetics*
  • Reactive Oxygen Species / metabolism
  • Stress, Physiological / genetics*


  • Arabidopsis Proteins
  • Glucosides
  • Reactive Oxygen Species
  • Protein Kinases
  • AtMPK3 protein, Arabidopsis
  • MPK6 protein, Arabidopsis
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinases
  • Mitogen-Activated Protein Kinase Kinases